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THE LIFE OF M. L. ANDREASEN - by Virginia Steinweg


CHICAGO 1900-1905


FOLLOWING HIS year at Battle Creek College, M. L. was asked to conduct a trial summer church school in Chicago. The schoolroom turned out to be located in a hall above a saloon on Milwaukee Avenue. And imagine children having to attend school during the summer when normally they would have been on vacation.

The schoolroom was reached by climbing twenty-three narrow steps, and in order to keep their bicycles from being stolen, the students had to carry them up those steps.

School started off by being a trial for the teacher as well as the students. M. L. had been instructed by the school board to use nothing but the Bible as his textbook, and had been taught at Battle Creek never to lay a hand on a pupil because of misconduct.

M. L. soon realized that the latter instruction was impractical, and so gained permission from the school board to use the rod. When he set about to discipline one student, the boy, trying to escape, jumped out of a window, fortunately landing astraddle the tavern sign. The next morning he arrived at school brandishing a revolver. M. L. deftly overpowered him and tied him up with a rope. Then the children conducted a formal trial and sentenced him to a deserved punishment, which was duly carried out. The summer went along satisfactorily after that.

The conference then asked M. L. to help L. H. Christian conduct tent meetings for Scandinavians


in Chicago. The two hit upon a novel publicity plan. While Elder Christian was preaching, M. L., acting as if he were a stranger, got up and objected to something he said and challenged him to a debate. The speaker agreed; the public was delighted. The next evening the tent was packed with listeners eager to see those two preachers get at each other.

The lot on which M. L. and L. H. had pitched their tent was right beside the new elevated railroad. For decibel strength, that was the 1900 equivalent of having jet planes take off over one's head every few minutes. Both preachers developed their lung capacity to the full while competing with those trains.

Soon M. L.'s voice gave him trouble. He developed greatly enlarged tonsils, which were removed by an operation in a doctor's office. Returning home after the operation, M. L. had to stand on the back platform of the streetcar to spit out blood. (It took two subsequent operations to succeed in eradicating them.)

The family income was provided by the Sunday-night collections. If these exceeded two dollars, the overflow was to be turned over to the conference.

The Peanut Age began in Battle Creek. The Andreasen family, in line with the times, bought peanuts in quantity lots and baked them, boiled them, ground them, mixed them with water, subsisted on them. But despite their full stomachs, the little girls suffered from malnutrition. Especially was 1-year-old Eunice laid low. A sanitarium doctor prescribed beaten egg thickened with granola. Vesta was grateful to get what little was left over. Eunice recovered, but it was years before her stomach returned to normal. None of the family wanted to see peanut butter again.

Shortly after Eunice's sickness, Mrs. Andreasen experienced a health crisis, developing a high fever that burned unremittingly for several days. Sabbath


morning Annie, who had great faith in the prayers of Andrew Christensen, elder of the local Scandinavian church, asked her husband to send for him. M. L. arranged for him to come during church service so that none of the members would know. According to Christensen's account, a Mrs. Bennie Iverson had an idea that something was going to happen, and went to Annie's bedside instead of church. Brother Christensen solemnly anointed Annie, then called for prayer. As she was weakly fingering the bedclothes her lips moved almost inaudibly, "Then I'll get up." When the earnest prayers of the little group were finished, what was M. L.'s amazement to see his wife sit up in bed and begin to sing! She was healed. All M. L. could say was, "O ye of little faith."

Not all experiences ended so happily. M. L. writes:

At one time I was preaching on Fullerton Avenue in Chicago. We had a string quartet in which I played the celloŚnot very proficiently, it must be confessed, especially in view of the fact that two of the other men were music teachers.

One night after we had played, a man came to the platform, partly under the influence of liquor. With some difficulty he inquired of me, "Did you ever play that thing before?" referring to the cello. I admitted that I had not played much. "Let me have it," he said. I invited him to come back when he was sober, and I would try him out.

He came back. And how he could play! He played till tears ran down the faces of those not ordinarily affected by music. He kept coming back to our meetings again and again, and at last accepted Christ.

Then one day I received a hurry-up message. The man had committed suicide. The bottle had been too much for him. He had taken a drink, and the shame and disgrace of what he had done overwhelmed him.


It was one of the saddest funerals at which I ever officiated.1

M. L. tells this story, which has a very different emotional impact:

I was in Illinois when the first telephone line was stretched in a certain rural district. One farmer was skeptical of the newfangled idea. He had heard of speaking tubes before, but he was sure that no speaking tube several miles in length would ever work. His astonishment was unbounded when the thing did work and when he discovered that the wire was not hollow at all, as he had thought, but solid! He could conceive of a speaking tube. But a solid wire! How was it possible to send words through such a contraption? It was uncanny, and he would have none of it.2

M. L. managed to do more than one thing at a time all his life long. While in Chicago he squeezed in some time at the university. Among other subjects, he learned a little Greek.

In 1902, at the age of 26, M. L. was ordained. Now at last he could sit on the platform. In those days, even if a man was going to speak, he could not sit on the platform, unless he was ordained. He had to sit on the front seat.

The General Conference session of 1905 was held in Washington, D.C. M. L. attended. En route to Washington in early May, Ellen White and other delegates from California learned about the availability of the Loma Linda property. During the conference, telegrams and letters were going back and forth, encouraging the purchase of the site of the denomination's future medical headquarters.

At this 1905 General Conference session an unexpected learning opportunity came to M. L. and his


young friend from Chicago, L. H. Christian. It centered upon what came to be known as the Ballenger Trial. More than half a century later M. L. recounted the story:

Elder Ballenger was well liked, and it was a shock to all of us when he was cited for heresy and told to appear for trial, which was held at the time of the General Conference in Washington, D.C., in 1905, the first General Conference held there. A large tent had been erected for the meetings on the school grounds. There were some small buildings, one of which was used for the trial, which became known as the "secret trial" because only the older and more prominent ministers were permitted to attend the hearing. Brethren Daniells, Evans, Haskell, Prescott, Gilbert, Shaw, and Spicer were in constant attendance. Elder L. H. Christian and I were at the conference, but we were not admitted to the hearing. Though we were ordained, we were not considered old enough.

There was a window on the side of the building, the upper sash of which was lowered when it got too warm inside. But, alas, neither of us was tall enough to take advantage of it. But we decided that if one would sit on the shoulders of the other, he would have a good view, and could hear. So we decided to take turns standing and sitting, and it worked satisfactorily. However, truth compels me to report that I did more standing than sitting. But I got a good oral report from Brother Christian. The arrangement was satisfactory.

The second day we made an appointment with Elder Ballenger, which was not hard, for he was already being shunned, and it was not considered safe to associate too much with him. These interviews were very profitable, and for me were the beginning of a great interest in the sanctuary and the atonement, which has lasted throughout life.


From Ballenger I got both sides of the arguments, as he recited what was going on.

But one day Elder Daniells came by, and we thought we were surely in for a hard time as he called us in to talk with us. But the only thing that concerned him was that two young ministers sat with their feet up on the chair. This was worse, we were told, than to go without a hat, which Brother Gilbert always did, and for which he had been reprimanded. Brother Daniells was faultlessly attired, and he wanted all his ministers to be the same. We both duly repented.

Till this day I am glad for these talks, for it gave me a preliminary course in these most important subjects of the sanctuary and the atonement, which have been altogether too much neglected. . . .

As far as I know. Sister White did not attend the trial in person. But she did send a message to the leaders, involving Elder Ballenger. I have this before me as I write. She said: "Elder Ballenger's proofs are not reliable. If received, they would destroy the faith of God's people in the truth that has made us what we are."

With this support from the Spirit of Prophecy and their own convictions, the brethren unanimously voted Elder Ballenger's exclusion from the ministry.3

Thus near the close of his first denominational assignment, Andreasen found his attention focused on the sanctuary and the atonement, which continued to be of special interest to him for the rest of his life, and which involved him in a controversy with some of the brethren during his last years.

1 M. L. Andreasen, A Faith to Live By, pp. 47, 48.

2 Ibid., p. 138.

3 M. L. Andreasen, "Atonement VII," Jan. 19, 1958.

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